In the fall of 2017, the patriarch of a Las Angeles family passed away leaving behind two daughters and several grandchildren. Though it was known that the man had an attorney and an accountant, none of his family knew the names of these professionals since the deceased preferred to keep his business dealings private. This secretiveness created a disaster for his heirs since with no will and multiple relatives unable to agree on how to dispose of his multiple real estate assets, a drawn out probate process seemed inevitable. While it is understandable to want to keep your finances private, there are several reasons why you should never hide your will.

Lost Money

The average person has multiple accounts for daily spending, business expenses, savings, and more. After you pass away, your loved ones and estate administrator will need to have access to these accounts in order to get your affairs in order. If you do not have an estate plan that explicitly lists the names of all your banks, the account numbers, and access information, then these assets could be quickly overlooked. The State of California does make it possible for people to search for unclaimed assets, but if you have a will that is missing, your loved ones may not even know that they need to look for these assets.

Prolong Probate

Without an estate plan, your loved ones will have no instructions regarding how you wanted to dispose of your belongings. This could lead to arguments amongst your heirs regarding property and other assets especially items that hold sentimental value. Even if your heirs are all in perfect agreement regarding how to disperse your assets, court administration may prove necessary, prolonging the entire probate process and creating hardships if your family members must maintain your property while waiting for the probate process to be completed.

Validity Dispute

There are times when a missing will is unexpectedly found. In theory, this helps bring an end to disputes and allows family members to move on together. Unfortunately, there are times when a found will can cause even more problems as beneficiaries challenge the validity of this will.  When singer Michael Jackson passed away, the media initially reported that he left behind no will and his family was rapidly trying to determine how to manage his estate. When the will was located, new problems occurred in the form of various siblings saying the will was not valid and claiming it was fraudulent because they were unhappy with Jackson’s choice of executors.

Avoiding Will Drama

Creating an estate plan and giving copies to a trusted individual along with your attorney is the best way to ensure your will is never lost. A dedicated estate planning attorney is able to work with you during the creation of your will and help you determine the best way to keep your documents safe until they are needed. The team at MMZ Law has assisted many people just like you with creating an estate plan and storing it in a location that is easily accessible to heirs.  Contact us today to schedule a consultation so that we can begin discussing your legal needs.




341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711

MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.

This information is educational information only and not legal advice.